Gisele Martin leads a Senior’s Lunchbox walk in the forest as part of local programming designed to keep the Coast’s older locals healthy and active. (Photo - Tarni Jacobsen)

Gisele Martin leads a Senior’s Lunchbox walk in the forest as part of local programming designed to keep the Coast’s older locals healthy and active. (Photo - Tarni Jacobsen)

West Coast seniors’ programs receive a healthy boost

“We’re doing it because we love seniors.”

ERIN LINN MCMULLAN

Special to the Westerly

The noonday sun spreads a golden glow across the forest as Gisele Martin leads a group of seniors in a journey of understanding the traditional Tla-o-qui-aht names and uses of plants beside the path.

This interpretive walk is a world away, yet only a short distance from Tofino’s community centre where the ‘Seniors Lunchbox’ meets Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., funded by a New Horizons for Seniors grant and with a recent $12,000 boost from Island Health’s Community Wellness grant.

With a focus on healthy aging, this one-time grant has allowed Pacific Rim Hospice Society, who partner with the District of Tofino on the program, to hire a seniors outreach coordinator, Panagiota Thymaras.

Her role is to address the needs of seniors 55+ in Tofino and within Tla-o-qui-aht Communities. The grant also supports Hospice’s Walk for Wellness, a gentle walking group open to all adults, which meets on Mackenzie Beach at Hellesen Drive each Tuesday at 1 p.m.

“We’re doing it because we love seniors,” explains Hospice’s Executive Director, Tarni Jacobsen.

“We’re two different organizations committed to working together with a common goal of reaching seniors on the West Coast.”

“We are so fortunate here in Tofino to live in a place that promotes such health and wellness,” says Thymaras.

“I think that this makes the Tuesday Walking Group on Mackenzie Beach an exceptional place to meet, chat and walk together. The seniors luncheon is also a great way to meet others and be introduced to safe gentle movement practices like stretching, strengthening, yoga and Tai Chi.

“I find working with seniors rewarding in so many different ways. Often I find I am receiving great wisdom and insights to one’s life lived. Seniors often love to share their story, which I believe is such an important part of the aging process, and which requires a sense of support network or simply socialization…We’re excited to see the community connections and the impact these grants make in improving the health of the population,” says Janet Shute, Manager of Partner Engagement, Communications, Planning & Partnerships Portfolio at Island Health.

“In areas like the West Coast, typically the community relationships can be very supportive in a small community and there are often more intergenerational supports. There are generally fewer community recreational services since the population of an area like the West Coast is smaller, however, it’s hoped grants such as this can create unique, community-based programs which directly fit local needs.

“Island Health is committed to continually improving community services to help people remain independent in their homes. Community-based care options are generally preferable. Most people wish to stay in their own homes as long as possible and are better off when they are able to be supported at home, up to and including end-of-life care.”

Thymaras is hoping to bridge the gap to reach seniors who aren’t online, not only for these programs but to ensure they have access to support and emergency services.

“As the new Seniors Outreach Coordinator I would like to personally reach out and invite as many seniors to come for a beach walk on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. or drop by the community centre on Fridays for our program at 10 a.m.”

READ MORE: $25,000 awarded for seniors programs on the West Coast

READ MORE: Funding to help Tofino’s seniors ‘age in place’

READ MORE: Tofino nun celebrates 100th birthday

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation man shot and killed by Tofino RCMP

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

Visitors relax at the natural hot springs located within Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. (tofinohiking.com photo)
Maquinna Marine Provincial Park boardwalk project on track

“The walk down the two-kilometre boardwalk to the springs itself is by far one of the most incredible experiences.”

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino’s mayoralty candidates lay out key differences

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

Most Read